I recently purchased my first pair of proper bikeshorts. I say "proper" to distinguish them from the black and hot pink pair I sported back in the late eighties which were purely for fashion (if you could call it that). No, these ones are proper padded numbers and will make me more comfortable as I zip around town on my bike (which I've taken to calling "the red demon").
Being a non-driver, I've always been a bit of a cyclist but I never knew how superficially I'd been skimming along on the top of the cycling world until I met my ex. When we first started going out he was in what I would call "cycling remission" but slowly and over the course of four years I was to become...a cycling widow.
The cyclist has since pedalled out of my life but I find that I am left with a vast amount of knowledge on the topic of cycling that I have no idea what to do with. I'm a transportational cyclist rather than a competitive one so most of what I know isn't that applicable to my own "red demon" outings. But I do feel like someone should benefit from the "wisdom" I've acquired during four years of widowhood so if you've just become romantically involved with a cyclist here's an A to Z list of things that nobody will tell you, but that you really do need to know. For the rest of you this will probably be no more than a curious insight into a strange and foreign lifestyle so do your best Louis Theroux impersonation and just sit back and enjoy the ride...
A - Armstrong, Lance. Currently the world's most famous cyclist. Everybody knows who he is so you don't get any brownie points for having heard of him.
B - Bananas. "Energy high, calorie low, any time of the day. Yay!" Favoured food of cyclists everywhere.
Bike, the. (see Other woman, the)
C - Chamois. Pronounced “shammy”. This is the padded bit in bike shorts that is specially designed to cut down on chafing, because we don’t want that, not at all.
Crashes. These happen fairly regularly and can be pretty scary. Try not to think about your loved one's butt-skin being scraped off by road gravel or you really won't get any sleep at all, and remember that alarm clock’ll be waking you up early so your beauty sleep is important (see Quarter past five).
D - Disturbed. The only reasonable emotion that a girl can feel when she first realises that her boyfriend and his mates don't wear any undies under their lycra gear.
E - Eddy Merckx. Tour de France legend of yesteryear. If you name-drop this guy into a conversation and say something glowing about him expect to see a look of complete adulation on the face of your lad. Major brownie points.
F - Fat trackies. Road cyclists tend to be a bit leaner than their track cycling buddies hence this charming term of endearment. Aforementioned trackies also crash a bit more often (see Crashes) because of there being NO BRAKES!!!
G - Grease. Get used to cleaning grease spots off the carpet when bicycle repairs inexplicably take place in the living room (!). I recommend this stuff.
H - Hamstrings. Though cyclists usually have very muscular legs they often suffer from quite tight hamstrings. In vindictive moments wantonly flaunt your ability to bend over and touch your toes.
Holidays. Depending on how serious your cyclist is, you can expect some or all trips away to be related to cycling races or competitions. Get used to a holiday itinerary that includes such highlights as Palmerston (Otago) and Invercargill (home of New Zealand’s only indoor velodrome). (See Velodrome.)
I - Inside. When the bikes aren't on the road or track they will be here. Just don't let him bring a bike into your bedroom. You have to draw the line somewhere and the bedroom door's a pretty good place.
J - Jens Voight. German cyclist who rides with Team CSC. Not nearly as famous as Lance Armstrong so if you were to say something like "Jens Voight really is the workhorse of the CSC team isn't he?" you'd come off sounding like someone who knows what they're talking about. More brownie points for you.
K - Kitchen counter. This will be permanently accessorised with empty drink bottles. These things are on permanent rotation so it doesn't matter how many you wash and put away there will always be a new dirty one (or more) to replace it.
L - Legs. Cyclists really like their legs. The whole shaving thing is only partly about practicalities such as smooth skin making for easier wound cleaning and better "aerodynamics". It's also because hairless legs show off the muscles better. The downside is that the night after a hard ride you may find that you're awakened when those muscular pins start twitching and spasming in protest.
M - Massage. Cycling widows are often called upon to massage various ointments and whatnot into smooth, muscular thighs (see Legs) so as to avoid middle of the night leg-twitching. Not an entirely unpleasant task, on the whole.
O - Other woman, the - By which I mean the bike(s). He might ride the bike for six hours but you'll get significantly less attention than that (if you know what I mean). If you ever find yourself looking at one of his bikes and wishing you had a hacksaw it's time to leave.
P - Paris-Roubaix. Legendary French race which takes place over a hideously difficult cobbled course...on purpose...because it's more fun that way? Nutters.
Q - Quarter past five. This, or a similarly inhumane time will be what your alarm clock will be set to so that he can get in a training ride before work. Expect to be woken up at 5.15 every morning (including Christmas day) for the duration of the relationship.
R - Random metallic objects. These will turn up in the oddest of places such as the bathroom or the kitchen table. Logic dictates that these items are bike parts but why they are deemed to be more useful as grimy table centrepieces than as working components in an actual bike is the riddle of the ages. Don't even bother asking what it's doing there. It'll move on when it's good and ready.
S - Shaving. Nothing ever really prepares you for the sight of your beau using your Ladyshave on his legs. Just try not be jealous of how smooth and tanned his legs are compared with yours.
T - Tan lines. While you will probably quietly admire the steely musculature of your fella's legs this admiration will be offset by the comedy value of the tan that stops at exactly mid-thigh. This will also be repeated on his upper arms, and if he wears fingerless cycling gloves, on his hands. Also keep an eye out for telltale marks under his ears and chin from his helmet straps. Feel free to point and laugh if you feel like it. Chances are he won't be wearing any tanktops or stubbies, so result!
U - Undies. These are not worn under Lycra as they would rub in painful ways. While there will be times when you wish him pain in his nether-regions (see Other woman, the) this is ultimately a self-defeating desire. My advice? Just shrug and try to get used to the idea that his family jewels are only hidden from view by a thin layer of Lycra.
V - Velodrome. Where fat trackies congregate.
W - Wheels. Bikes have two. In a race, spare wheels will be on hand in case of a puncture. He'll probably want to do it himself but being able to quickly swap out a wheel is a good cycling widow skill to have. Front wheels are easy. Back wheels a bit trickier. Let someone else do it if you are at all unsure about what you're doing. You do NOT want to be responsible for any kind of mechanical failure.
X - X-rated. You will be mildly concerned the first time you realise that the magazines that he obsesses over and the websites he spends hours looking at don't feature naked women but are instead filled with bike porn. Colour photos of bikes and more worryingly parts of bikes are what he's been examining in minute detail. But then I like a bit of shoe porn so each to their own.
Y - Yellow jersey. In a multi-stage race (like the Tour de France) the tour leader gets to wear a yellow jersey. I wouldn't be caught dead in one myself (olive-skinned people have to be careful with yellow tones), but the red and white polka-dot one for "king of the mountains" is totally cute.
Z - Zebra crossings. These sometimes mark the finish line for impromptu sprint races on training rides. Show some hustle if you're crossing and see a bunch of guys in Lycra coming towards you.
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